Dominic Cummings: Minister dodges questions over whether adviser took sightseeing trip during lockdown

Gavin Williamson says No10 aide ‘operated within the rules’

Kate Devlin
Whitehall Editor
Monday 25 May 2020 10:39
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Boris Johnson skirts question over whether Dominic Cummings took 30 mile day trip during lockdown

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has become the third senior minister to skirt questions over whether or not Dominic Cummings took a sightseeing trip during lockdown.

The government has admitted the prime minister’s chief adviser drove 260-miles to Durham while the country was being told to stay at home.

Ministers insist he did the right thing because he was seeking childcare for his young son.

Downing Street has also categorically denied that he returned to Durham in April.

But he is also facing allegations he made a 30-mile day trip while he was in Durham, when the government was warning the public against all but essential travel.

Yesterday Boris Johnson defied calls from his own MPs to sack Mr Cummings.

But pressure is mounting on the prime minister to order an investigation to establish the facts of the case.

Asked on Sky News if Mr Cummings did travel to Barnard Castle, 30 miles from where he was self-isolating near his family in Durham, Mr Williamson said he had “operated within the rules”.

Mr Williamson also sidestepped questions about whether or not Mr Cummings stopped on the journey to Durham.

He made clear that Mr Johnson had “agreed” with Mr Cummings’s own assessment of his behaviour.

Yesterday Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said he did not know if Mr Cummings had taken the day trip.

He told the Sophy Ridge show: “I certainly know that the first (allegation) you mention, of travelling back up (to Durham), I know that is not true.

“I’m afraid I don’t know (about Barnard Castle) but if that date was true that would have been outside the 14-day period. But I’m afraid I don’t have the information on that.”

Mr Johnson himself did not directly address questions over the Barnard Castle allegations when he made an unexpected appearance at the daily Downing Street press conference yesterday.

His defence of his closest adviser failed to quell a growing rebellion in his own party.

Former Tory minister Tim Loughton became the latest MP to call for Mr Cummings to go.

He told the Today programme the row was “hugely damaging” as it gave the impression there was one rule for the government and one rule for the public.

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